A candid, subtly profound collection.

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MY WIFE WANTS YOU TO KNOW I'M HAPPILY MARRIED

Franklin (English/Brigham Young Univ.) meditates on the nature of manhood by reflecting on his life as a married father of three boys.

In this warm, engaging collection of 14 personal essays, the author offers a masculine take on love, commitment, parenthood, and living contentedly in an imperfect world. He opens with a reflection on kissing, its association with “bases, bats, and balls,” and the “sliding, stealing, and striking out” associated with the male world of baseball. But for Franklin, kissing is a far more complex act than this misogynistic metaphor suggests. It can not only express affection, but also signify everything from transcendent romance to animal lust. Life as a married man has shown him that love goes beyond mere physical attachment to an object of desire. In “Working at Wendy’s,” Franklin tells the story of a temporary job he took at a fast-food restaurant to support the needs of his college-going wife and their young son. Though humble, the job provided “an honest wage” for his family while revealing just how privileged his education had made him. While growing into manhood provided Franklin with lessons on the importance of putting others before himself, it also revealed the futility of equating masculinity with outward physical attributes like hair. A balding Franklin now teaches his sons to enjoy what they have “while it lasts” rather than hold onto it too tightly. Patience, tolerance, and humor are also essential to the modern man. “Houseguests” is the author’s witty account of his ongoing battle against the roaches he sees as the true owners of his family dream home. Franklin’s focus on daily life makes his book down to earth and entirely accessible. Taken together, his essays reveal the ways men can not only survive their own socialization, but also take quiet pleasure and pride in being male.

A candid, subtly profound collection.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8032-7844-8

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Univ. of Nebraska

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

ECONOMIC DIGNITY

Noted number cruncher Sperling delivers an economist’s rejoinder to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Former director of the National Economic Council in the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the author has long taken a view of the dismal science that takes economic justice fully into account. Alongside all the metrics and estimates and reckonings of GDP, inflation, and the supply curve, he holds the great goal of economic policy to be the advancement of human dignity, a concept intangible enough to chase the econometricians away. Growth, the sacred mantra of most economic policy, “should never be considered an appropriate ultimate end goal” for it, he counsels. Though 4% is the magic number for annual growth to be considered healthy, it is healthy only if everyone is getting the benefits and not just the ultrawealthy who are making away with the spoils today. Defining dignity, admits Sperling, can be a kind of “I know it when I see it” problem, but it does not exist where people are a paycheck away from homelessness; the fact, however, that people widely share a view of indignity suggests the “intuitive universality” of its opposite. That said, the author identifies three qualifications, one of them the “ability to meaningfully participate in the economy with respect, not domination and humiliation.” Though these latter terms are also essentially unquantifiable, Sperling holds that this respect—lack of abuse, in another phrasing—can be obtained through a tight labor market and monetary and fiscal policy that pushes for full employment. In other words, where management needs to come looking for workers, workers are likely to be better treated than when the opposite holds. In still other words, writes the author, dignity is in part a function of “ ‘take this job and shove it’ power,” which is a power worth fighting for.

A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7987-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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